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What are my rights if the police stop me when I’m driving?

Question
What are my rights if the police stop me when I’m driving?

Glossary

Clear language definitions to common legal terms. 

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Reviewed: 
October, 2016
Answer

If the police see you break a traffic law or have reasons to believe you’ve committed a criminal offence, they may ask you to pull over and stop your car. They may investigate you.

Traffic laws are explained in the Highway Traffic Act. This Act gives police the power to get you to pull over so they can check that:

  • you have a driver’s licence
  • your vehicle is in good working order
  • your vehicle is properly insured

You must show the police your:

  • driver’s licence
  • vehicle registration
  • proof of insurance for the vehicle

Passengers

Unless the police have reasonable grounds to believe that your passengers are involved in a criminal offence, your passengers don’t have to tell the police who they are.

Stunts and racing

If the police have reasonable grounds to believe you’ve been performing a stunt or racing, they can take away your car and driver’s licence. You won’t get your car back for at least 7 days, and your licence will be suspended for 7 days. You have to pay storage fees to get your car back.

Drinking alcohol and driving

If the police suspect you’ve been drinking alcohol and driving, they can demand that you do a breath test and a Standardized Field Sobriety Test at the roadside. The Standardized Field Sobriety Test includes physical co-ordination exercises. For example, you may be asked to stand on one leg or walk in a straight line.

Depending on the results of the breath test, the police can take away your car and suspend your driver’s licence. They can also demand that you go to the police station for a breathalyzer test.

Taking drugs and driving

If the police suspect you’ve been taking drugs and driving, they can demand that you do a Standardized Field Sobriety Test. This test includes physical co-ordination exercises. For example, you may be asked to stand on one leg or walk in a straight line. The police can also demand that you go to the police station for drug evaluation tests.

Learn more about this topic
Office of the Independent Police Review Director
Office of the Independent Police Review Director
Metro Toronto Chinese & Southeast Asian Legal Clinic

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